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2008 Kawasaki Vulcan 900

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With the Vulcan 900, Kawasaki establishes a unique balance between imposing styling and middleweight finesse. This guarantees the bike’s success as cruiser riders have long craved for such a machine.

 

Introduction

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

Being found half way through the Vulcan lineup, the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 demonstrates it enjoys being caught in the middle. Proof of this fact is the bike’s clean lines inspired from the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 and the mid-size agility which is characteristic for these kinds of motorcycles.

Like you’ve already gotten used to, 900s offer awesome roll-on acceleration with the help of good power and torque, but when these bikes receive their credit by featuring “big bike” looks that is when you know you have a successful product. This is also the case with this Kawasaki.

History

The Vulcan 900 isn’t a long-standing model in Kawasaki’s history but I do know it is one hell of a bike. Introduced in 2006, this mid-size cruiser was the first in Kawasaki’s lineup to ever feature a belt drive and a fuel injection system. These two features practically set it as a customer’s favorite from the first day it started being produced.

Also, the 900cc motor was appreciated by the motorcycle press for being a jewel and a great performer also, as the innovations clearly did their job.

Being good looking, awesome performing and marking a new beginning at Kawasakis, the Vulcan 900 remained unchanged but willing to further enjoy its success. It does just that as a 2008 model year.

Competition

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

The closest competitor for the subject of this review is the Suzuki Boulevard C50, a bike built by the same recipe and featuring almost the same success as the Kawasaki Vulcan 900. The bike features classic lines and a torque 50 cubic inch V-twin so it delivers strong low-end and mid-range torque for strong acceleration, just like the Kawasaki.

Honda’s alternative to the 900cc Vulcan is the Shadow Aero, a cruiser featuring full-sized looks and 750cc performance with the advantage of being cheaper than the Kawasaki. Honda aims at success by delivering a cruiser featuring a long and low chassis covered with retro-styled bodywork. As the Vulcan, the other most important feature is its engine, in this case a 750cc liquid-cooled 52-degree carbureted V-twin ready to be put to the test against the fuel injected V-twin found on the Kawasaki.

The Yamaha V Star Classic doesn’t quite dispose of a 900cc motor, but it is still a middleweight cruiser so it is suitable for the fight against the bikes I’ve just talked about. More important, it features belt final drive, so it is well worth mentioning it in this heading.

Exterior

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

First, the Kawasaki Vulcan catches its future rider’s eyes with clean classic lines which are inspired from its bigger siblings and it then uses the comfortable ergonomics in order to get him completely. We all know that we like mid-size bikes to look bigger, more powerful and implicit more able, and that is what the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic does.

The bike gets its classic cruiser curves from its valanced fenders and nicely shaped fuel tank but what really speaks for itself is the chrome found all over this bike. On the headlight cover and the air cleaner, on the exhaust and signal lights cover, or on the rear fender ornaments, Kawasaki knows that it will have the needed effect.

The spoked wheels accentuate the old-bike look but what I appreciate most are the wide, pullback handlebars found on this thing.

If you are already thinking on picking a color, you will be glad to find out that it can be painted Ebony, Metallic Titanium, Candy Caribbean Red, or Candy Caribbean Blue. With so many colors available, it makes sure to look awesome both on the boulevard and down the highway.


Test Drive

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

It is an absolute pleasure to ride the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 because (you will agree with me on this one), the bike has a bit of everything. You will be comfortably accommodated in the wide seat and start to enjoy the bike’s impressive riding position while the engine produces a healthy V-twin sound. What’s best is that the other traffic participants will actually think you are on a much bigger and powerful motorcycle. Isn’t that cool?

Kawasaki thought things carefully when it developed this machine and the results are very satisfying.

Not heavy at all and featuring a low center of gravity, the Vulcan 900 is easy to maneuver in the parking lot and at slow speeds. This makes it appropriate for beginning riders and a more experienced motor head will find it easy as a snow flake.

On the boulevard, the Vulcan 900 really turns some heads and I have to admit I had a great time admiring the machine and myself in the shiny windows. But this bike is built to be ridden so as I twisted its throttle, I noticed the responsive feel coming from the fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 4-valve cylinder head V-twin. This is no arm stretching machine, but you should prepare yourself for satisfying acceleration as a result of the power and torque produced by the mid-sized V-twin.

The cars look nice in its rear view mirrors as the bike spins its wheels rapidly from stop signs but once again, do not expect to get a fever from it.

Plenty of power for highway passing in top gear, the excellent riding position becomes obvious in this environment, and the ride becomes a dream incursion. I decided to get the best out of it and for me that means reaching the bike’s TopSpeed. I managed to hit 100 mph, speed level where the vibrations in the floorboards and handlebars become obvious. There are not disturbing and the bike could easily go like this forever, but it is kind of a reminder of what bike category you are on.

I always say that a cruiser should be enjoyed at decent speeds and I won’t change my opinion now, but if you are in a group with bigger cruisers, it is well worth giving it a bit of gas.

A tank full of petrol (5.3 gallons) would take you deep down the highway; approximately 200 miles so in a relaxed rhythm, you won’t need to gas up more than once a day if you are in a long journey.

And believe me…this bike is made for long trips! You will have no problem whatsoever going that distance without even a small stop as the suspensions are very efficient, the seat is simply awesome, and the bike leans effortless. It seems it has all the characteristics necessary for it to become a true rider initiator, if it doesn’t already do that.

If this is not your debut on a bike, than you will quickly find yourself scratching the asphalt with the floorboards as the low center of gravity involves a bit of sacrifice in corners. Well, you can replace the slider so it is ok for you to enjoy without worries.

I certainly did and I got to the conclusion that the cylinder capacity mustn’t be taken for granted, but the first impression should. Ohh, by the way…don’t tell anyone how much you paid for it (you wouldn’t want to be taken for a liar).

Price

A good secret is well worth keeping and the Vulcan 900 Classic’s MSRP of only $7,349 is one of those secrets. This motorcycle not only amazes with size, excellent finishing touches and sufficient grunt coming from that V-twin motor, but also with its price tag.

I bet you are already amazed but think at what your friends would say. Yes, I know the feeling.

Conclusion

Consider the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 a bike worthy of the “cruiser” designation by simply completing all the necessary requirements: V-twin motor, looks that never grow old, and lots of chrome.

The only thank that this bike misses is the open road so it would be best for you to take it for a ride and keep it for a very long time as you won’t feel the need to change it pretty soon.


SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine and Transmission

Displacement: 903cc / 55.1 cubic inches
Type: 4-Stroke, Liquid-Cooled, SOHC, 4-Valve Cylinder Head, V-Twin
Bore and Stroke: 88 x 74.2 mm
Maximum Torque: 60.8 lb.-ft. @ 3,700 rpm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Cooling: Liquid
Fuel Injection: EFI with dual 34mm Keihin Throttle Bodies
Ignition: TCBI with Electronic Advance
Transmission: 5-Speed
Final Drive: Belt

Chassis and Dimensions

Rake/Trail: 32°/6.3 in.
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork / 5.9 in.
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Uni-Track® swingarm / 4.1 in.
Front Tire Size: 130/90-16
Rear Tire Size: 180/70-15
Wheelbase: 64.8 in.
Front Brake: 272mm hydraulic disc
Rear Brake: 242mm hydraulic disc
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.3 gal.
Seat Height: 26.8 in.
Overall Length: 97.0 in.
Overall Width: 39.6 in.
Overall Height: 41.9 in.
Dry Weight: 557.9 lbs.
 

Other

Color: Ebony, Candy Cardinal Red, Candy Caribbean Blue, Metallic Titanium
 
Good Times™ Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months

Warranty: 12 Months

Features

 

Engine:

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

- 903cc V-twin SOHC engine tuned to deliver healthy dose of torque at low rpm


- Smooth and reliable


- Gear-driven balancer allows use of single pin crankshaft without heavy vibration 

Four-valve Cylinder Head:

- Provides maximum valve area for optimum flow more power and low-end torque


- Single overhead cam design is simple, lightweight and practical


- Extremely efficient intake tracts feature ports that narrow near the combustion chamber to increase intake flow speed for more efficient filling and increased torque


- Long intake tracts for great low-end response

Liquid and Air Cooling:

- Exceptional thermal control with finned cylinders and head and liquid cooling combination


- Maintains consistent engine temperatures for long engine life and sustained power


- Automatic fan keeps things cool even in traffic


- Includes temperature warning light

Automatic Cam Chain Tensioner:

- Maintains precise valve timing with maintenance


- Assures greater reliability


- Hidden from view to preserve the engine’s clean, basic look 

Dual Slash-Cut Mufflers:

- Big slash-cut mufflers look great and contain honeycomb catalyzers to reduce emissions

Positive Neutral Finder:


- Just lift the shift pedal from first gear at a stop to find neutral easy, every time

Electronic Fuel Injection:

- Dual throttle bodies with sub throttles provide optimum performance and rideability


- The sub throttles, located behind the main throttle valve, are controlled by the ECU so that the DFI system retains more precise throttle response, similar to a constant velocity carburetor


- Fine-atomizing fuel injectors produce a fine fuel mist for better acceleration, combustion and fuel consumption 

Belt Drive:

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

- Lower unsprung weight than shaft drive to improve ride quality and suspension action


- More efficient so more power reaches the rear wheel


- Low maintenance and low noise

Double Cradle Frame:

- Very rigid large-diameter box section backbone allows a larger fuel tank, and helps contribute to high stability and lightweight handling at low speeds


- Triangular swingarm looks like a hardtail design, but acts on a single shock hidden beneath the seat


- Long and low for minimal seat height, maximum visual impact


- Fork offset and frame geometry combine for light, low-effort handling at ultra-low speeds


- Long wheelbase contributes to highway stability

Low Stepped Seat:

- Ultra-low 26.8-inch seat height allows riders to easily plant both feet on the ground at stops


- Laid-back riding comfort for two 

Tank-Mounted Speedometer with Turn Signal Indicators and Caution Lamps:


- Gives you the information you need at-a-glance


- Compact design complements the bike’s clean look 

41mm Front Fork:

- Excellent rigidity and 5.9 inches of travel


- 32 degrees rake angle for excellent straight line ability


- Wide fork pitch for classic look 

Front and Rear Disc Brakes:

- A 272mm front and 242mm rear disc have twin-piston calipers for some of the best stopping power in the class

Custom Spoke Wheels:

- Chromed steel rims and spokes


- “Spool-style” polished aluminum front hub 

Wide Rear Tire:

- 180mm rear tire provides added stability while projecting a powerful image


- Wider tire than that found on most large-displacement cruisers


Models Available

 

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

This is the bike that I reviewed, and the one that you got familiar with by reading this article. It is also the best selling 900 in Kawasaki’s cruiser lineup as its lines never seem to grow old.

The engine, gearbox, chassis and basically all the features encountered on the Classic model were also implemented on the next two models which take things two steps forward and address to more and more people with different preferences and tastes. Kawasaki is here to satisfy everyone.

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

This one is a fully accessorized version of that same Vulcan 900 Classic that you’ve already got used to. It also inspires its lines from the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic only that this time we are talking about the touring version.

The LT’s advantage is that it becomes a better machine to be on once the highway winds appear and more comfort is needed, and it is still an absolute joy to ride around town. By featuring saddlebags, special touring seat, passenger backrest and an adjustable windshield, this ride is built for the open road and day-long rides.

It also has to shine nicely so Kawasaki only offers it in two-tone paintjobs such as: Candy Cardinal Red / Metallic Diablo Black, Luminous Polaris Polaris Blue / Atomic Silver or Pearl Crystal White / Metallic Titanium. It is way more stylish than the simple Classic Version and it also requires more bucks as it comes with a suggested retail price of $8,649.

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

We are facing a chopped-up model which is way more attractive than the Classic and implies lots of unique features. What immediately stand out are the massive rear tire and the totally changed front end dominated by a 21-inch cast wheel.

Kawasaki took things to a whole new level by arranging the front wheel’s spokes in pairs of two and although now the handlebars require a little stretching, you will definitely feel like this bike is one of a kind and it was especially designed to fit your dimensions.

All those nice custom features are made noticeable with the help of exclusive paintjobs such as: Metallic Diablo Black, Passion Red, and Candy Lime Green.

This model has the advantage of keeping its price tag low, as low as $7,399 so that uniqueness won’t come at a cost in this case.




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